Posted by: janecronin | December 3, 2017


I thought it was time to get down to the really important verbs, so what could be more fundamental to our existence than “comer” (to eat) apart from “beber” of course, but that one will have to wait.  First of all in terms of grammar, once again we have a verb that is entirely regular in all its forms, so there is very little to say about it, other than perhaps to point out that the first person singular f the present tense, “como” (I eat) is not be confused with “como” meaning “how” or “as” or “like” (that is “like” similar to “as”, not the verb “gustar”)  you see, English can be confusing too!

What you may not be aware of is that, as well as meaning “to eat”, in everyday parlance “comer” is also used to mean “to have lunch”.  I find that many people have been taught, or have extracted from a dictionary, the verb “almorzar” meaning “to have lunch”.  However, whilst this is true in many South American countries, and in some circles in Spain, the most usual everyday word is “comer”.

All these sentences, which you might hear in everyday speech, work the same way: “¿Has comido ya?” (Have you had lunch already?);  “Voy a comer” (I’m going to have lunch);  “Es la hora de comer” (it’s lunchtime);  “echo una siesta después de comer” (I have an afternoon nap after lunch) and so on.  Students very often don´t realise that the Spanish use this single verb to express the whole phrase “to have lunch” and also “to have for lunch”.  So, as well as saying “como a las dos” (I have lunch at two o’clock) I might also say “Como pescado con patatas” (I have fish and chips for lunch).

“Comer” is one of a group of words used to describe “having” various meals.  The others are “desayunar” (to have breakfast) “almorzar” (which in many parts of Spain at least means a mid-morning snack), “merendar” (to have afternoon tea, and also, to have a picnic) and finally “cenar” (to have dinner or supper:  in other words, to have an evening meal).  Another thing that is important to realise is that these meals are time related.  So, in other words, if you only have an apple and a yoghurt in the middle of the day, that is still “la comida” and referred to with the verb “comer”  whilst your main meal in the evening can only be “la cena” and talked about with the verb “cenar”.

“Comer” can also be a reflexive verb “comerse” which means “to eat up” (and not “to eat oneself”).  You may hear a parent commanding their child “cómetelo todo” (eat it all up).  Finally, on a more romantic note, well, on a romantic note, you might like to listen to the song “Comiéndote a besos” by María Rozalén, which gives a different meaning to “comer” altogether.

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